Vila Madalena

São Paulo Street Art: In Batman's Alley by Ian Hameroff

São Paulo, Brazil is a very diverse city offering everything one would expect for a place that's nearly 600 square miles and home to more than 11 million people. Amongst its most interesting features is the "grafites" (or graffiti) that's sprayed on many a building across the city.

Much of this appears to be nothing more than a strange street dialectic that looks almost alien, like an ancient race had landed and scribed their proclamations at across the tops and bottoms of building facades. But the prevalence of "Pixação" shouldn't overshadow the real "street art" you can find almost everywhere--welcomed or otherwise--along the ruas and avenidas of São Paulo.

In fact, there are some places where this artwork can found in an ever evolving "open air gallery" that is like a living organism of aerosol spray, crafty designs and an array of messages--often a mix of political, societal and artist ego. One such place, called Beco do Batman or "Batman Alley", exists in the Vila Madalena neighborhood.

Late Morning Along Beco do Batman

Beco do Batman is a fantastic place to visit.

White Tree House

It is really alive and ever changing, as evidence by the total lack of any trace of the art from the last time I was there in 2008.

As an aside: I had one of my photos from that prior visit featured in a photography show and it still remains one of my most favorite captures I've ever made.

Just like I did in 2008, I took my trusty Nikon and captured about 50 or so exposures. I would have liked to have taken even more shots, but it was a super busy day all along the alley. At least four groups were taking pictures at a various points, including some that look like either a professional shoot or students from the same photography class asked to complete an assignment in this rich location.

Beco do Batman's popularity was further bolstered by all of the "gringos" in town for the World Cup and after it was featured in the in-flight magazine for (at least) TAM Airlines. Just a few moments after we made our way out of the alley, a car stopped us to ask for directions to the site.

Beco do Batman

There is no particular rhyme or reason to the spray painted canvasses that are basically the back walls of the various houses and buildings that line the alleyway. Oh, this is an active thoroughfare, as we had to step aside many times to allow cars to travel through the one-way connector.


A lot of the art here is created by some of the better known graffiti artists, like "Não" (which means "No" in Portuguese). And, it seems like there is a lot of respect for the art of others, as few of the "pieces" are corrupted by over-spray from other works.

The following is a sampling of photos I took during this most recent visit (NOTE: the titles are my own for the pictures and not the original artist's. Hope the original artists don't mind my interpretation of their work.)

"Eye See You"

Eye See You



"Rising Sun"

Rising Sun

"Cow Trance"

Cow Trance

"The Beast"

The Beast



"The Conversation"

The Conversation



As you've likely noted, the diversity of the artwork is incredible. Different styles. Different messages. Different subjects.

You even get the occasional protest or activist tag amongst the other works.

The Best Protest

The loose translation: "Not consuming is the most powerful protest"

And, the street art is not just confined to the alley called Beco do Batman.

Grafites Parking Spot

It can be found all around Rua Gonçalo Afonso, like this driveway less than a hundred yards away from one of the ends of the alley.

I really loved a few bits of graffiti a little further away from Batman Alley, like this fantastic work I've called "Falando":


And this one that looks like the artist's rendering of Q*bert.

Q*bert's Garage

I have a bunch more shots from our trip through Brazil for this year's World Cup Finals. I hope to get through the nearly 1,000 exposures before the next World Cup!

The Day After Opening Day by Ian Hameroff

Wow. What a rush it was to experience the kick off of the world's game's biggest event--the FIFA World Cup Finals--in the very city that the opening match took place!

Yesterday was a day filled with anticipation by all involved, especially the fans and teams from Brazil and Croatia. A late morning walk along Avenida Paulo VI (known locally as Sumaré) provided a great view into the pre-match build up of excitement and host nation pride in their Seleção.

This guy was out quite early, armed with Brazil flags and a number of vuvuzela like horns (even though vuvuzelas have been banned for the 2014 tournament).

A Seleção Fan

As the day continued, more flags, horns, firecrackers and fans made their way to the streets. At least 1 out of every 10 cars had some form of the Bandeira do Brasil. It even got challenging to conduct meetings from my remote location, as both the noise from the streets and the flakey Internet connectivity made for some interesting conditions on my Lync calls.

Things hit a crescendo shortly after the mediocre opening ceremonies which took place about 2 hours before the kickoff. No offense to Pitbull or J.Lo, or the lovely representations of the wide cultural diversity from across the beautiful land of Brazil, but folks were more interested in seeing some football! (Queue the association football and non-racist version of Hank Williams, "Are You Ready for Some Football?!?")

We watched the match from the comfort of our São Paulo base of operation, complete with a healthy spread of treats and tasty caipirinhas. The match got off to an inauspicious start thanks to Marcelo's horrid own goal in the 11th minute. I'd be lying if I said spirits weren't low, bordering on worried until Brazil's jewel Neymar netted an equalizer 18 minutes later. I don't need to recap the match's storyline, which included some questionable calls that leaned mostly in the host nation's favor. Instead, here's a peek at what happened in the streets near our viewing party after Brazil's 3-1 victory.

About 15 minutes following the final whistle and a little bit of clean-up, we headed out to experience the celebrations along the bar area of Vila Madalena (a nearby neighborhood). The police had cordoned off several blocks to allow for outdoor viewing of the match and consumption of adult beverages. The party continued until late in the evening.

Everyone was good natured and while it was no small task to navigate through all the masses of humanity gathered, we didn't feel unsafe for one minute. We were even able to score a table at Bar Genésio where we ate some Brazilian pizza and chopp (Brazilian draft beer).

Bar Genesio late evening after Match #1

Bar Genesio late evening after Match #1

After our late snack, we headed back out into the sea of celebrating humanity to make our way back home. The experience was fantastic and has served as a great personal kick off for our own World Cup adventures.

Celebrating Brazil's victory in the streets of Vila Madalena

Celebrating Brazil's victory in the streets of Vila Madalena

Bright and early tomorrow morning, we head out to Natal to start the process of following the USA in the Group Stage. Stay tuned!